"The Sontag Award means so much to me as well as the collaborations made over the years, these collaborations were made possible because of the fantastic Retreats. The Retreats provide a much needed basis for inspiration to achieve meaningful breakthroughs in our research."

- Dr. Chay Kuo

View CV

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor, Departments of Cell Biology, Neurobiology, Duke University of School of Medicine

About DSA-Funded Research

Cancers arising in the brain are a special kind of horror. The complexity of the organ that defines us as human beings means that even a ‘benign' tumor can kill if it occurs in an area of the brain that is inaccessible to treatment.

A malignant brain tumor will kill in spite of treatment, as no effective therapies are available. In cancers such as leukemia or breast cancer, the most effective treatments are based on detailed knowledge of the characteristics of the tumor cell type. There are many types of brain tumors, but it is not clear how these cancers arise, or which cell type is responsible for generating the aberrant growth.

How do we find out which cells form brain tumors? In the brains of adult rats and mice, there are stem cells capable of giving rise to new neurons in a mature brain-similar cells have been identified in the adult human brain.

Our goal is to determine whether brain tumors can result from mutations to endogenous stem cells in the postnatal and adult brain. We have a powerful new tool to help us achieve this: we have generated a new mouse line that can specifically and efficiently delete genes in postnatal/adult neural stem cells, and we will genetically manipulate brain stem cell populations in mice and evaluate their ability to form tumors.

We propose to use this system, in combination with new techniques in imaging and chemical screens, to find more effective therapies for brain tumors.


"It is no accident that Chay has accomplished so much already. He is a gifted and fearless experimentalist. He is extremely energetic and driven. He learns and masters very quickly whatever techniques he needs to address a question. He is among the very best students or postdocs who have come through our lab."

Yuh-Nung Jan, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco

"Chay's unusual ability to challenge scientific paradigms at a very early stage in his career when combined with his outstanding technical skills and diligent work habits, guarantee that he will continue to be outstandingly successful in academic science and medicine over the coming decades. Like all of the best scientists, he not only makes important personal scientific contributions, he stimulates the thinking and work of his collaborators and colleagues."

Jeffrey M. Leiden, M.D., Ph.D.
Clarus Ventures, LLC

DSA Collaborations

Benjamin Deneen, NIH R01 application in submission, “Molecular and cellular control of injury-induced astrogenesis”. Co-PIs: Chay Kuo and Ben Deneen.


  1. Paez-Gonzalez, P, Abdi, K, Luciano, D, Liu, Y, Soriano-Navarro, M, Rawlins, E, Bennett, V, Garcia-Verdugo, J, and Kuo, CT. (2011) Ank3-dependent SVZ niche assembly is required for the continued production of new neurons. Neuron 71:61-75.
  2. Benner, EJ, Luciano, D, Jo, R, Abdi, K, Paez-Gonzalez, P, Sheng, H, Warner, DS, Liu, C, Eroglu, C, and Kuo, CT. (2013) Protective astrogenesis from the SVZ niche after injury is controlled by Notch modulator Thbs4. Nature 497:369-73.
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